Nila review: This well-intentioned movie from director Indu Lakshmi celebrates womanhood

The filmmaker deserves laurels for wisely mixing up filmy elements in a women-centric flick that revolves around a septuagenarian.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published:Mar 26, 2023

indu lakshmi nila malayalam movie
A salute to women!

Nila (Malayalam)

  • Cast: Shanthi Krishna, Ananya, Vineeth, Mamu Koya, and Madhupal
  • Director: Indu Lakshmi
  • Producer: Kerala State Film Development Corporation
  • Music: Biji Bal
  • Runtime: 1 hour 35 minutes

Nila, also known as Bharathapuzha, is the second-longest river in Kerala. When a movie is named after this river, chances are high to assume that the project is related to cultural aspects.

Indu Lakshmi has taken a relevant theme — a women-oriented subject — for her directorial debut.

Masculine heroes in their 60s and 70s performing stunts and doing larger-than-life characters aren’t new in Malayalam films.

Indu Lakshmi’s Nila does have characters aged above 60 years. For instance, Malathy (Shanti Krishna) is a gynaecologist and also the protagonist of the story. Rahman (Mamu Koya) assists Malathy.

Malathy’s role has depth as compared to other women characters in commercial films. Her daring act at a crucial point in the story gives goosebumps to the audience.


cast and crew of nila

The cast and crew of ‘Nila’ movie. (indulakshmii/Instagram)

Nila is an emotional story of Malathy, her son Mahi (Vineeth) and Nila (Ananya), an important character who appears towards the climax.

The opening shots are quite interesting. Malathy meets with an accident at her house and her leg is fractured. She now sees the world lying down on a stretcher.

When the stretcher moves from the ambulance to her room, she observes the roof and parts of her house.

Her son Mahi works in the US and can’t cope up with the social life followed by his mother. He takes her to his new flat thinking of providing her with a better life with less interference from people.

Malathy’s new life at the flat changes the entire story — the mother-son relationship, their love and caring for each other.

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Women-centric plot

Writer-director Indu Lakshmi gives much importance to Malathy who can be referred to as a superhero-like character: DC’s Wonder Woman.

She is a jovial person but feels lonely after her son returns to the US. Added to this, the home nurse hired to take care of her keeps acting weirdly.

Nila is a surprise find for the protagonist. A native of Kannur, Nila sings well and her story moves Malathy.

indu lakshmi shanthi krishna nila

Indu Kakshmi and Shanthi Krishna at ‘Nila’ premier show. (shanthikrishnaactress/Facebook)

The story picks up momentum after Nila’s revelation about her life and Malathy decides to help her. In the end, Malathy’s efforts to rescue Nila become a major highlight of the movie.

It is clear that the filmmaker wants to make a mainstream movie and hence adds all the necessary elements, especially in the climax.

This isn’t a flaw but, surely, is a surprising turn from the usual women-oriented films that don’t use cinematic gimmicks to enthral the audience.

Shanthi Krishna at her best

Shanthi Krishna as Malathy delivers a power-packed performance.

In the second phase of her career, she shines in a role that offers good humour and comic timing. Some of her one-liners here leave the audience in splits.

In fact, Malathy is the sole of the movie. But most of her dialogues don’t sound real as the makes didn’t use local slang.

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However, Nila speaks the local Kannur slang that is trending of late are more films like Pranaya Vilasam and Enkilum Chandrike are using it.

Vineeth as Mahi gets a good role to play as Malathy’s son. He is a man of the new generation but understands the importance of the values upheld by her mom only at the end of the movie.

Music & editing help the theme

Malathy is quite disturbed and frustrated that she can’t get up and go back to work. She even tells her son that she will get back to her OP (out-patient) in a month.

a still from nila

A working still from ‘Nila’. (indulakshmii/Twitter)

Director Indu Lakshmi wisely crafts Malathy’s character as a septuagenarian.

The protagonist is well-off and educated and loves to help downtrodden women via a women’s forum, which is mentioned numerous times in the flick.

Towards the climax, the song sung by Sithara Krishnakumar and composed by Biji Bal adds a rhythm to the crucial act in the story. However, these scenes are too filmy and superficial.

Appu N Bhattathiri’s editing helps the movie as it is trimmed to 95 minutes.

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The film is produced by Kerala Film Development Corporation under their scheme to encourage upcoming women directors.


Nila is a female-oriented movie that showcases the abilities of a wheelchair-bound elderly woman. It deserves a huge round of applause for its bold theme.

The movie will be released in a couple of months. It was screened recently at the International Women’s Festival in Alappuzha.

(Views expressed are personal.)